retain

verb
re·​tain | \ ri-ˈtān How to pronounce retain (audio) \
retained; retaining; retains

Definition of retain

transitive verb

1a : to keep in possession or use
b : to keep in one's pay or service specifically : to employ by paying a retainer
c : to keep in mind or memory : remember
2 : to hold secure or intact

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Synonyms & Antonyms for retain

Synonyms

hold, keep, reserve, withhold

Antonyms

give up, hand over, release, relinquish, surrender, yield

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Choose the Right Synonym for retain

keep, retain, detain, withhold, reserve mean to hold in one's possession or under one's control. keep may suggest a holding securely in one's possession, custody, or control. keep this while I'm gone retain implies continued keeping, especially against threatened seizure or forced loss. managed to retain their dignity even in poverty detain suggests a delay in letting go. detained them for questioning withhold implies restraint in letting go or a refusal to let go. withheld information from the authorities reserve suggests a keeping in store for future use. reserve some of your energy for the last mile

Examples of retain in a Sentence

A landlord may retain part of your deposit if you break the lease. They insisted on retaining old customs. You will retain your rights as a citizen. The TV show has retained its popularity for many years. The company's goal is to attract and retain good employees. The team failed to retain him, and he became a free agent. They have decided to retain a firm to conduct a survey. You may need to retain an attorney.
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Recent Examples on the Web

In July, Musk asked the head of his family office, Jared Birchall, to retain a private investigator to dig into Unsworth's personal life. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Musk spent $50,000 digging into critic’s personal life," 17 Sep. 2019 In 1666, 17 British ships were destroyed by a hurricane in the Lesser Antilles, allowing the French to retain control of Guadeloupe. Tristram Korten, Smithsonian, "The Bahamas and the Caribbean Have Withstood Hurricanes for Centuries," 17 Sep. 2019 Pettersen's winning six-foot putt for a 1-up victory over Alex crowned a tumultuous final day in which Europe won the final three matches to overhaul the visitors, who needed to win 14 points to retain the trophy. Rob Hodgetts, CNN, "Solheim Cup: Europe defeats USA in thrilling finish at Gleneagles," 16 Sep. 2019 The Hamtramck plant makes the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac CT6, two slow-selling sedans that would need to be retained or replaced to keep the factory running. New York Times, "For G.M. Workers, U.A.W. Strike Is Chance for Overdue Reward," 16 Sep. 2019 The developer and architect M.W. Steele Group took great pains to retain a classic feel inside the building. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Historic Spreckels Building begins leasing after more than 5 years of construction," 14 Sep. 2019 All this makes flooding more severe, as deforestation in the catchment area of a river reduces the land’s ability to retain water. Gayathri D Naik, Quartz India, "India, leave those forests on the mountains alone, lest you want to drown," 13 Sep. 2019 Decisions to retain or dismiss front office personnel and members of Bochy’s coaching staff are next on the docket for Zaidi, followed shortly by manager and general manager searches. Kerry Crowley, The Mercury News, "Behind-the-scenes decisions come into focus for Giants as season winds down," 13 Sep. 2019 Along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Bolton helped persuade Trump earlier this year to retain a U.S. military presence in Syria to counter Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. Eli Lake, Twin Cities, "Eli Lake: Without Bolton, Trump can now go soft on Iran," 12 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'retain.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of retain

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for retain

Middle English reteinen, retainen, from Anglo-French retenir, reteigner, from Latin retinēre to hold back, restrain, from re- + tenēre to hold — more at thin

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Statistics for retain

Last Updated

14 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for retain

The first known use of retain was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for retain

retain

verb

English Language Learners Definition of retain

formal
: to continue to have or use (something)
: to keep (someone) in a position, job, etc.
: to pay for the work of (a person or business)

retain

verb
re·​tain | \ ri-ˈtān How to pronounce retain (audio) \
retained; retaining

Kids Definition of retain

1 : to keep or continue to use They retain old customs.
2 : to hold safe or unchanged Lead retains heat.
re·​tain | \ ri-ˈtān How to pronounce retain (audio) \

Medical Definition of retain

1 : to hold or keep in retain fluids
2 : to keep in mind or memory

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re·​tain | \ ri-ˈtān How to pronounce retain (audio) \

Legal Definition of retain

1 : to keep in possession or use
2 : to keep in one's pay or service specifically : to employ (as a lawyer) by paying a retainer

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More from Merriam-Webster on retain

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with retain

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for retain

Spanish Central: Translation of retain

Nglish: Translation of retain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of retain for Arabic Speakers

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